By: Nadya Yolanda Moeda
Music has been one of my interests. I still remember how I convinced my parents to let me earn a Bachelor’s degree in music, but they kept rejecting this idea. Since it was not easy for a 16-year old me to envision my future career besides being a musician or performer, I thought there was nothing to plan for. So then, at that time I did not strive to achieve what teenagers my age typically dream of: To get accepted in one of the most prestigious state universities in Indonesia. Because I thought, as long as I still could find the way to play my instrument in my future college—wherever it would be, I would be fine.
After careful consideration, I chose to study in one of the reputable private universities in Indonesia, majoring in International Relations. In my sophomore year, I and my other seven friends formed a band. We performed quite regularly at college events, playing mainly groovy music from many genres. I had always looked forward to our upcoming performances and even managed to sneak in a little time every week to continue my music lessons in order to improve my skills. Some friends said I took this hobby too seriously without them realizing that having a fulfilling hobby can positively impact our academic performance and psychological well-being. The fact is, when it comes to academic life, it is very interesting to look at how people behave towards their studies. Some people treat their undergraduate degree merely as a fast track to get the career they have always wanted, while there are always those students who spend most of their time worrying about deciding the right focus. One of the ways to overcome any possible negative behavior towards our studies is by having a good hobby we are passionate about.
Before heading to graduate school, I had been working for a company and assured myself that the work experience I got from my work would help me hone in on particular skills I would like to develop. Unlike in my undergraduate years where I could invest much of my time doing my hobbies and learning new things, I understand that a 1,5-year of my graduate years should not be taken lightly. Instead of bringing my violin with me to Melbourne, I chose to give it up since I have promised to myself to setting my academic priorities on top of my list. I may say that graduate study is very challenging. Not only that you have to adjust to a new routine, but you also have to alter your financial status and lifestyle—not to mention academic responsibilities that carry certain level of stress.
In my second semester, a friend of mine informed me about an Australian company that offers a range of musical instruments for rental. I tried to book one of their affordable violins for a year. After that, I managed to join one of string ensembles at the University of Melbourne. At first, it felt strange yet exciting to get to focus on myself as a violinist in a music group again after a long hiatus. Even though I am not a professional violinist, being in a string ensemble reignites the spark in my musical journey since I once had a dream of becoming a talented violinist. This string ensemble consists of two persons as first violinists—including me, one person as a second violinist, one violist, one cellist, and a pianist who demonstrate various levels of performance skills. Having this activity scheduled on Thursdays, I recreated my schedule. The interesting part is, I know I got way busier than before, but to my surprise, it really boosted my productivity and made me less prone to procrastination due to my tight schedule.
It was two weeks before the performance day when I realized that I could not possibly join the ensemble to perform our music live on stage, whereas, it could have been my very first experience performing abroad. It was quite saddening to know that I would miss this opportunity but the mentor assured me that there would be another chance for me to perform at the end of next semester. So until then, I kept on practicing and wondering which pieces that would be chosen for our upcoming performance.
The next semester begun, and I was astonished when I heard that my first violin partner would not make it to our regular rehearsals due to a scheduling conflict, meaning that, I would be the only first violinist in the ensemble who would carry the melody of the musical pieces. It was very challenging but the show must always go on and I did not want to turn the whole excitement into anxiety. I must admit that it is difficult to achieve a complete mastery of bowed instruments—such as violin, since any musical instruments that fall into this category require certain level of complexity and sensitivity, especially when it comes to classical music pieces. I have been playing violin for more than 10 years now, on and off, yet I sometimes still hit a wrong note on its strings every now and then. Thus, in order to minimize the possibility hitting the wrong notes, especially in the classical piece of Waltz of the Flower, I managed to arrange few hours every day to train my fingers.
Finally, my one of the most anticipated days in Melbourne came. That cold Friday night in October marked my first-ever performance in Melbourne. When we were about to perform, the thought of all those audiences made me a little jittery, but I was so happy that finally I was given a chance to feel this particular feeling again. The very first song we performed was a classical piece, and as predicted, I could feel my hands turned into a pool of sweats as I was so nervous and I believed that the next impossible thing that might happen was to stay on the right notes. Yes, I missed a few notes. I did. I was sure that the audiences knew it but I continued playing my violin nonetheless. I could have stopped playing my part to avoid more mistakes but I chose to take the challenges and kept on playing anyway, because I did not want to embarrass myself more and other players in the group.
Playing in a music group is not only about creating a harmonious melody or beautiful music, but it also teaches you the art of listening and how to cooperate with people. A thoughtful friend of mine reminded me that ‘progression over perfection’ is true. Even though I made several mistakes in the classical piece, at least I played smoothly in the other two pieces, and the audiences are not going to remember your mistakes anyway. Still, I have to learn. I have to keep learning. I could not thank the University of Melbourne enough for this experience. Although it was my first and last time performing in Melbourne since I will graduate soon, but it remarks one of the milestones in my musical journey. Now, I am confident enough to encourage all of you to have at least one hobby and setting aside some time in your routine for doing it regularly. Trust me, this suggestion would not make your hobby sound like a chore or burden, but to keep it on your agenda would make you more productive and boost your personal achievements.
Nadya Yolanda Moeda has just finished her Masters degree in Development Studies at University of Melbourne. Travelling is her passion for both exploring new places and writing stories about it in her personal blog.